Blackjack softball looks to make leap forward

Photo by Joyce Hustad The 2024 Dawson-Boyd softball team includes (back row, left to right) assistant coach Mary Bothun, Alivia Estling, Lauren Larson, Taylen Jorgenson, Kadyn Perkins, Madalyn Wente, head coach Josh Dorn. Middle row: Tayah McKinney, Macy Moen, Natyah Ritter, Thea Wilsey, Rylin Viessmen, Kate Gruwell, assistant coach Kendra McBride. Front row: Elsie Wiebe, Allison Estling, Madison Peterson, Lauren Lee, Quinn Larson, Shay Bothun.

DAWSON — The Dawson-Boyd Blackjacks had their ups and downs in 2023, finishing the year with a 2-18 record. Now they’ll look to get back on track behind the play of key returners such as Alli Estling and Madalyn Wente.

The key for the Blackjacks this season is going to be the team’s ability to develop its pitching. The Blackjacks allowed 10 or more runs nine times last season, including a 21-6 loss to Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley. While they had the bats to put runs on the board, they struggled to keep pace at times.

Leading the Blackjacks’ returning backs is Estling, who earned an Independent All-Area First Team selection for her terrific play at the plate. Returning for her senior year, Estling hit for a .492 batting average and 1.293 OPS. She also had a home run and nine doubles last season.

After struggling early last season, the Blackjacks never regained any momentum. They earned the No. 7 seed in the Section 3A North bracket, falling 8-1 to No. 2N Lac qui Parle Valley to end their season.

Alongside Estling, Madalyn Wente and Madison Peterson also earned All-Area Second Team nods for their consistent hitting last year. Both hitters achieved an OPS over 1.000 on the season with Peterson driving in 18 RBIs on a .397 average and Wente driving in 11 RBIs on a .357 average.

Estling, Wente and Lauren Larson have each taken to the circle this year for the Blackjacks but Dawson-Boyd has still struggled defensively. Through their first two games of the season, the Blackjacks have put together a 10.50 ERA and 2.33 WHIP as a group to fall to 0-2 on the season. Still, one of the losses was against one of the best edfensive teams in Class A, Russell-Tyler-Ruthton, so the Blackjacks have plenty of time to figure things out.

The Blackjacks are also in their first season under head coach Josh Dorn, who takes the reins from Kelly Wente.

In his first year as head coach, Dorn will have the advantage of having a large group of senior leaders. Estling, Peterson, Larson and Taylen Jorgenson are each in gheir senior seasons while Wente is among three juniors on the squad.

The Blackjacks will play their first road game of the season against Tracy-Milroy-Balaton on Thursday.


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